Hooters Hall

Posts Tagged ‘trees’

Start of our mini tree nursery & polytunnel update

Smallholding activities have been somewhat curtailed over the past fortnight after I fell off  my horse Bob and broke my clavicle. With my dominant right arm out of action for 6 weeks I’ve not been able to get started on the sheep shearing but fortunately did get the angora goats sheared before I had the accident.

I am able to hold a hosepipe and with some assistance plant seeds so I have been able to keep the polytunnel on track. It’s looking like we’ll have another big crop of apricots and cherries this year. I think we might have some plums too which we didn’t get last year. The figs are developing nicely too and will hopefully have enough time to ripen this year. This is our 4th year of growing figs and we’ve had a bigger and better crop each year so far. The perennial vegetables continue to do well and we’re harvesting regularly from the nine star broccoli and the tree cabbage.

The grape vines have sprung back into life. We did get some grapes last year but not more than a few bunches. I’ve been told that we should expect a bigger harvest from the third year. This is our second year so I’m just hoping for more than last year.

I planted some melon and watermelon seeds last week and they are already starting to germinate. I’ve started them off in the heated propagator so that they have a decent growing period, which will hopefully mean more chance of a successful harvest. Last year my melons did quite well and were delicious so I want more of them. I also planted some Butterbush squash which are also starting to germinate. Butterbush is a variety of butternut squash bred to be smaller and more bush like with smaller squash. Much as I enjoyed our massive squash harvest last year it did mean we dined on squash a lot even though I gave a lot away so I’m hoping we’ll have a more sensible amount of squash this year and more sensible sizes.

Here’s some pictures from around the polytunnel as you can see the elephant garlic, spring onions and carrots are doing well in the raised beds. I’ll be planting some of my tomatoes in there soon as well.

   My other growing project for 2017 is to start our own little tree nursery. Our longer term plans for Hooters Hall involve increasing the number of trees we have and particularly increasing the number of trees that we can make use of. This is a very long term project so I decided rather than buying in bare root trees I’m going to grow them from seed, which also works out a lot cheaper and is very interesting. As my seed grown trees mature I’ll also take cuttings.

So far I’ve got some Staghorn Sumac mainly for the use of the leaves in natural dyeing, Alder for dyeing and also firewood, Sweet Chestnut, Oak, Silver Birch and Walnut. Germination rates have been quite good and for now my tree seedlings are in the polytunnel. Our plan for the longer term is to create an outside nursery area for the trees. We’re going to fence in the area behind the polytunnel, put down weed suppressant fabric and gradually move our seed grown trees there. It will be accessed from the back doors of the polytunnel so it’ll be easy to move things around.

Here’s some pictures of the start of my personal tree nursery

Spring is coming

It was a gorgeous day in the Fens today and it really felt as if Spring as on the way. There are Snowdrops in our wood and the trees are in bud. This was the view across our paddocks this afternoon.

I spent the day in the Polytunnel planting some Sweet Chestnuts. One of our long term projects is to increase the size of our wood and expand the tree species that we have growing on the smallholding. Sweet Chestnuts will provide both a wood and nut crop. Rather than buying in trees I like to grow the first batch from seed then take cuttings. I get all my tree seed from Tree Seeds Online  the seeds come with clear instructions and I’ve had good germination rates.

I’ve started  using deep tomato pots from The Garden Superstore for any trees with a deep tap root. The pots I’ve planted the Sweet Chestnuts in are 26cm deep which should be more than deep enough and being square they take up less space.

As well as planting my Sweet Chestnuts I re-potted the Alder and Staghorn Sumac that I grew from seed last year. I’ve got about 30 of each which isn’t bad for a few pounds, if you’ve got the time, space and patience growing from seed is very economical. I also planted on a few Lavender plants and Hollyhocks that have been overwintering in the Polytunnel and needed a bit more space.

Next weekend I’ll be sorting out my Sweet Peppers that are in the propagator most of them have germinated

Here’s a picture of the Sweet Chestnuts in their long square pots, the Staghorn Sumac, Alder and the Sweet Peppers.

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I’m going to be growing some other trees from seed this year Walnut, Olive and Oak. I think the Olive will be the most challenging. A lot of tree seeds need to undergo Stratification before they will germinate. This means simulating winter temperatures and is most easily done using the fridge. Olive seeds also need  to undergo scarification which is a process designed to make the testa (seed coat) more permeable to water and gases (and thus more likely to germinate).

Which native plant ? Climbers and trees selection

The final instalment of our native plant selections series covering climbers and trees is now in the articles section, you can also find it under the native plant selections category in Hooters Hall posts.

 Those with limited space sometimes believe, wrongly, that they don’t have the room for climbers but some careful training (horizontal as well as vertical) and judicious pruning are all that’s needed. Native trees might present more of a difficulty to those with limited space but there are some possibilities. Rowan can be grown in a pot and has a maximum height of 10m as does the Pussy Willow, which some might regard as more of a large shrub than a small tree.